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Chinese Cultural Beliefs Surrounding Health Care

Source: John Hopkins Medicine

For centuries, Chinese cultural beliefs and practices concerning healthcare have been passed down from one generation to another. Even with the introduction of Western medicine and modern healthcare practices, some traditional Chinese beliefs are still being followed up to this day. Thus, to enlighten us what these beliefs are, we asked Dr. Criscely Go of Metropolitan Medical Center to share some of the practices that are still being followed in our community today.

1) Prioritizing Chinese Traditional Medicine 

Source: Tradevistas

“A lot of chinese believe in chinese traditional medicines as being more safe and “natural”. Hence, they want to incorporate them in our westernized practice of medicine especially in patients who are bedridden or in a worse state. However, we don’t know the effects of these on the liver or kidneys. We usually have to ask them to sign waivers if they insist or we sometimes have to sign out from the case. Among the chinese with cancer, they would turn to herbal medicines as the word chemo seems to sound so negative for them and this is a big issue I think with Filipinos or any patient who gets diagnosed with cancer here in the country. Problem is, the cancer would have progressed by the time they seek real evidence based treatment.”

2) Additional Treatments

Source: Giphy

“The chinese believe in doing everything to get better (Health is wealth) and they’re not hesitant to spend money for the fastest way to get better, so most will turn to adjuvant or additional treatments like acupuncture for stroke or sprains or even osteoarthritis. Hyperbaric oxygen is the in thing now with most neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, since they feel that chinese (medicines) add-ons are healthy and natural, they opt to try it first (or to take it with western medicine).” 

3) Restrictions During a Woman’s Period

Source: 90’s kids

“During a woman’s period, they are taught not to take a bath or shower to preserve the inner energy or Chi of the body. There are a lot of forbidden things to do based on that concept. [Some restrictions include] getting a massage and consuming cold food and beverages like soft drinks or ice cream. Also, one is not allowed to visit the temples during menstruation as this is deemed as dirty or disrespectful to the gods. [Moreover,] one is not allowed to visit the dead as well.”

4) Following The Temple’s Decision

Source: Giphy

“Big decisions regarding the day of surgery, to have or to withhold surgery, or any treatment is often consulted with the elders of the temple. If the elders misinterpret the numbers obtained during the temple visit then the doctor is left without their consent to treat the patients. In general, it will be at the patients discretion and family too if we push through with certain procedures. Doctors respect these cultural issues as best as we can” 

5) Time of Death by Dawn

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Speaking of the dead, it’s a better time to let patients die at dawn than the night as this will ensure blessings to be given to the heirs/successors. So sometimes, we need to revive a patient and repeatedly do CPR despite an already known outcome (death) to respect the wishes of the family.”

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